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September 17, 2009
 

UEFA: we’re about coulda, not shoulda

Just you wait: soon it'll be 11 v. 11 v. 11

Just you wait: soon it'll be 11 v. 11 v. 11

Whether you like them or not, you have to give UEFA credit sometimes, for despite their overwhelming inconsistency of action, there’s one thing about which they’re unbelievably consistent: being utterly stupid.

One minute, they’re accidentally reinforcing an arbitrary new law that might actually help rid the game of a modern-day scourge, and the next, they’re deliberately backing down and making themselves look wimpish in the process.

They love to harass clubs with money, and now they’re randomly dropping some new technology into the Europa League, BEGINNING RIGHT F**KING NOW: the “human camera”.

In case you’re confused, that’s a euphemism for “two extra assistant referees, positioned on the goallines.”

Oh god…. heaven help us all.

I don’t even know where to begin regarding all the issues I have about this. I’ll go with numbered points in order to stay on track.

1. I hate this idea. Not so much an issue, but a general statement of feeling I wanted to get out before getting started. Just put a special microchip in the ball or use a proper camera instead… the notion that some balding 40-something is gonna be able to adjudicate correctly at match speed whether the entire ball crossed the line instead of just fractions of ball is ridiculous. They got it wrong in 1966 (much to my delight… thanks, Tofik Bakhramov!), and they’ll get it wrong again.

2. Referees by themselves are incompetent. Adding more referees adds more incompetence. It’s the think-tank effect, or that other term you learn in Political Science/Psychology… something about groupthink? Having a total of FIVE officials in charge to debate and confer on crucial decisions will surely muddy the waters a bit. Obviously, the main ref is going to defer to his goalline friend, and maybe even his sideline buddy nearest the action for particular calls, but the likelihood of them both missing it, or still getting wildly different views of a contentious incident, means we’re no closer to getting decisions right than when we lived in simpler days with just one central moron in charge while the guys running touch twirl their flags all day long.

Which leads us to…

3. When this fails, which it will, we’ll end up just getting video instant replay and all that cold, impartial crap. I like my human-aided drama in sports. I don’t like it when all calls in all games are made flawlessly, because it robs you of that human element a bit. Sure, we’d all be happier when our teams get a fair shake every week, but then things would get a little boring. At least our email threads would when Arsenal gets a fair PK against them and there’s no Eduardo jokes to be made.

4. They’re adding it now? The timing of UEFA decisions and reckoning never ceases to amaze. Spare a thought for all those poor, unlucky teams in that final knockout/qualifying round who got screwed by refereeing decisions and must now watch the tournament from their couches. Yes, for their lucky conquerors now get two extra refs! That’ll certainly ensure a fair shake when some Bulgarian striker falls over a Moldovan goalie’s arm and receives the correct call.

5. We don’t even know what they’re there to do. David Moyes is leading the charge of complaint: “We know if you pull a jersey in the box it’s a risk but you might find they’re giving every single thing and we’ve not had any directive except to say where they’re going to stand and what they’re going to do.” A very fair point. What are they watching for, exactly? Are they covering the goal exclusively, or giving advice on penalty decisions? Will they have a say in offsides? Will we suddenly see the goalie protected from physical contact thanks to the extra eyes watching all the argy-bargy? Where does their jurisdiction start and end? And why are we being forced to adjust to this now?

6. Who are these guys anyway? Last I checked, “soccer official/referee” wasn’t particularly high on the list of most popular professions, so I’m wondering just where they’re unearthing all these extra morons from. Are they licensed and full-time? Are they trainees rushing through their qualifications training and testing?

I hate UEFA sometimes, so much so that their incompetence and whimsy make me hate authority altogether. I just wish that one day we could get consistency. Perhaps we could employ all the waiting armies of robot refs and instant replay machines to just govern UEFA instead?

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James T